Development Capital: USAID and the Rise of Development Contractors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Development assistance from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is conceptualized as flowing through an assemblage that includes heterogeneous subjects and objects and that has coevolved with USAID's contracting regime. Key assemblage elements are contractors (firms, nongovernmental organizations, individuals), contracts, and procurements, and key flows include capital, knowledge, and people. The focus of this article is the rise over the past forty years of a lucrative development contracting industry in the United States, through a relational examination of USAID contractors and other key elements in the assemblage. This article traces the contemporary U.S. development assistance contracting assemblage and its geographies. This entails identifying and mapping the assemblage's component elements, its networks and flows, with the overall aim being to take steps toward building a critical geographical understanding of development capital.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1030-1051
Number of pages22
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
• FHI was begun in 1971 as a University of North Carolina spin-off research group funded by a grant from USAID. • The combined FHI and AED firm was rebranded as FHI360. • Based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. • It is one of the largest U.S. nonprofits, with US$475 million in revenue in 2011, almost three quarters from USAID (FHI360 2011). • FHI360 is now USAID’s largest nonprofit contractor (Mukherjee 2011). • Dr. Albert Siemens, CEO, was paid more than US$450,000 in 2011 ( 2013).


  • assemblage
  • contractors
  • development
  • foreign aid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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